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Principal Report 2019 | TERM THREE | 6 SEPTEMBER

Hello Spring! The sun has come out to greet us in the last couple of days which has put a smile on everyone’s face. The school always seems more active when the sun comes out with children running around and making use of every item they can find around the school. Our Parents and Friends have been working last year and this year on building a large kitty for developing our playgrounds for our students. Amongst all of the hard work from P&F, we have had two busy grant writers writing up an application for a $200 000 inclusive playground grant. This was submitted last Friday. I would like to thank both Lisa and Phil for their work on this application as I know it was not an easy task. Now we all wait with our fingers, toes, arms and legs all crossed to see what awaits. The Playground Working Party will be meeting soon to work on the draft design ready for display some time next term. We are all looking forward to what lies ahead.

Sun Smart

The Education Comittee is working on updating our current Sun Smart policy. We have a Sun Smart station in all classrooms where students are asked to place their own labeled sunscreen and apply before going out for lunch time. We ask for all families to ensure that they have placed sunscreen on their child/ren before the go to school. Students can apply sunscreen during soft start if they have forgotten.

We are currently in the process of applying for a Shade grant through ‘Shade Grants Program’, hoping to get some funds to go towards shade that has been lost from the building. We have factored in more shade areas within the playground design.

2020 Classes - Parent Input

This time of year, we often get questions about how class lists for the next school year are developed. After we have a rough idea of how many enrollments we have we can begin to work out how many classes we can afford. Once this has been completed, we can begin working on developing class lists for the following year. This is a lengthy process as many factors need to be considered. We construct classes based upon a composition that includes:

  • Students with special learning styles and needs
  • High achieving students
  • Balanced male/female ratios
  • Known interpersonal relationships that will maintain a positive class climate
  • Teacher recommendation
  • Parent concerns
  • Friendships

Parent Requests: Parent requests are one of the considerations that we consider during this process. It is important to note that parent requests are only considered based upon the student’s positive or negative influence they may have when being placed within a classroom. It is important to note that we do not place students into classes based on choice. We would like to ask that all requests be sent to the principal via email by Friday, 25th October. This is an important deadline as emails received after that date will be too late to be considered.

Student Friendship Groups: When creating class lists we ensure that every student has at least one friend in their future class based on their friendship list. As we have to consider many factors when creating class lists, it is not always possible to have all/most of your child's friends on their list. All students will be writing down a list of 5 friends that they would like to work with. This year students will bring their list home for their parents to check before teachers start preparing class lists.

Class Composition Process: The following is how we compose class lists for the following year.

  1. Newsletter: Parents are notified in the newsletter to write an email to the principal if they want to give input regarding their child’s placement. Parents requests are only considered based upon the student’s positive or negative influene they may have in the classroom. We request that you don’t request a teacher.
  2. Closing Date: All emails must be received by Friday 25th October in order to be considered. This is an important deadline as emails received after that date will be too late as it interferes with the placement process.
  3. Class Placement: After the closing date for parent input, the principal will direct the teaching staff to prepare class lists for 2020 based on the criteria listed above including both teacher and parent input.
  4. Draft Classlists: The draft list is provided to the principal where it is directed to our Welfare team. This is then reviewed by the principal who will meet with each grade level team to discuss the classlists based upon the criteria.
  5. Parents are informed: Parents are informed of their child’s class placements prior to the end of the school year.

If you would like input into your child’s class, please send your request to the school’s email address (coburg.north.ps@edumail.vic.gov.au), with the subject: 2020 Parent Input. If you have made a request in the past and you feel that you would like that request to be continued in 2020, please send an email again as we start a fresh new list every year.

Building Update

The roof has been going up over the last couple of days which has started to shape the building. There has been a few walls taken out of the gym which has opened it up with the outlook looking great. Everything is on schedule. Bring on the great weather for a speedy delivery of our new building.

Hot Topics in the School Yard

This time of year the chatter in the school grounds amongst parents grow louder, hence I have decided to bring back ‘Hot Topics in the School Yard’. Over this last fortnight I have had parents chatting to me about wanting to know more about the decision to have swimming available for Foundation student only, our behavior process as well as a feeling of loss of community. This fortnight I will touch base in regards to our swimming program. Next fortnight I will address our behavior management process as well all the things we do as a community.

Swimming

As you are all aware our school has grown significantly. We are no longer a small school and we can no longer operate as one. This year has seen many organisational changes that have had to occur to due to the increase of student enrolments. Last year we had 497 students, this year we have 537 students and next year we are expecting over 580 students. The increase of size does impact schools. We need to run more classes and hire more specialist staff. This impacts on organising specialist timetables, a difficult task to ensure that all classes get Art, Music, PE and Italian as well as fitting in scheduled release for curriculum leaders, group sessions for our School Improvement Team and Team Leaders as well as our Graduate teachers. This task is complex within itself and at times needs to change for whole school events such as camps, concerts and planning weeks.

In the past when the school was smaller, the swimming program affected 2 weeks of the time table. Last year over half of the Term 4 specialist timetable was interrupted due to managing 23 classes participating in swimming as well as including our planning week schedule. This had an impact on our Teaching and Learning program.

We encountered other logistical problems. To reduce costs for parents, students walked to the swimming complex (bus fare each day over 8 days = approx $18 extra per student on top of swimming costs). This caused stress amongst staff due to unknown weather conditions. Last year it rained three times and students had to walk in the rain as there were no busses available at short notice. In previous years there were very hot days and students had to walk in the heat. If the school was to add bus fares to the swimming program it would be an approximate cost of $78 per student for an 8 day program.

Funding for the school’s swimming program is another factor for running whole school swimming programs. Primary schools only get funding based on their Year 6 enrolments and can choose how to spend this money across the school for swimming. This year the school received $3 240 for a program that would cost for the whole school $29 805 (Prep $65 x 87 students; Years 1-4 $60 x 360 students; $30 x 85 students). This doesn’t go very far.

As the swimming program is an excursion, extra teachers are required to meet the department’s teacher to student ratio. At times when teachers are not able to get volunteers or they have had parents cancel on the day, we have had to hire CRTs to cover the ratio and at times had to maneuver timetable schedules on the day to meet requirements. This is an added stress for the Daily Organiser over a 5 week period.

We calculated that 2.5 hours of teaching and learning time was lost each day for 30 minutes of swimming (4 hours of swimming = 16 hours of teaching and learning lost). The School Improvement Team discussed that this put enormous pressure on classroom teachers, especially in the upper years to fit in all of their curriculum and assessment requirements for Term 4 reporting.

The challenges that the school faced led the school to investigate what other schools of our size were doing for swimming. It was discovered that many schools of our size only offer swimming to particular levels due to the same issues that we were experiencing. The School Improvement Team worked together to decide that we would follow suit and selected the Foundation cohort as other year levels had many other interruptions to their curriculum program. Foundation students were also more keen to go to swimming in comparison to the older students whose attendance was low (puberty was a factor in low attendance).

We had a discussion with school council and I am still in correspondence with the Department of Education on this matter. Please be advised that this has been an operational matter for this point in time.

Have a great fortnight

Thank you to all of the teachers, students and parents who make this school the amazing school that it is.

Monika Gruss

Credits:

Created with images by MichaelGaida - "architecture skyscraper glass facades"